Distraction is a major problem for many.
“Distraction is a killer of dreams, visions and goals.” – Topsy Gift.
As I write this, my phone is on silent, my email access is off, the other windows and possible sources of notifications are closed and my doors are shut. Freeing myself of distraction is at the heart of me being productive.
One of the cornerstones of being successful is managing distractions to get the important stuff done without being distracted or diverted before you have finished. It is easy to become distracted by endless little things that prevent you from doing the one big thing you should really be doing or that is going to contribute to your most important goals. The challenges arise in the form of multiple items on both your work and personal ‘to do lists’ which compete with each other and the endless potential distractions for such a limited amount of time.
There has been some recent research, which reveals that we are all distracted more often than we think and that distraction comes at great cost to your productivity.
Gloria Mark, Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California found that a typical office employee works for only 11 minutes between each interruption and then takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task after the interruption.
In another study, Alessandro Acquisti, Professor of Information Technology at Carnegie Mellon measured the brainpower lost when someone is interrupted through a phone call or email. They performed cognitive skill tests, which demonstrated that once interrupted individuals performed at 20% lower effectiveness on their original task than those without interruptions.
More Research by Professor Larry D Rosen, Professor Emeritus and Past Chair of the Psychology Department at California State University found that those students who stayed focused for longer were more successful in their studies with the amazing revelation that if they checked Facebook just once during the 15-minute study period they performed at a lower level than those that did not. Interviews with the students revealed their thought process, in that they felt compelled to either respond to a Facebook alert or if not they lost concentration anyway by diverting their thinking to wondering what was in the alert. Either way, it was a distraction that affected their productivity.
So it is clear that being distracted takes up time during the distraction, and afterward, to get back on track with your original task. Even then, your productivity and quality of work will be materially lower than had you not been distracted at all.
If you want to stay focused and take charge of your day, there are ten things that can help you focus and stay on track.
1. Get a proper night’s sleep:
When you sleep, your mind and body relax. You wake up feeling refreshed and ready to kick-start your day. Your creative juices start flowing. You start out with a positive vibe that influences how your day starts. You find yourself being much calmer and less stressed. Read these articles for some help with sleeping better:
a) Using Self-Hypnosis To Get To Sleep Better.
b) Get Back To Sleep With Mindfulness, Self-hypnosis and Dissociation.
c) True Letting Go Using Self-Hypnosis – Like Leaves On A Pond.
2. Set up a daily schedule or routine:
A habit takes time to form. Sticking to a routine helps foster good habits and cut off the bad ones. Setting up daily schedules do wonders to get your focus on track without you having to think about it. You find yourself doing things automatically without thinking about them.
Here are a couple of articles to help you establish routine in your life:
a) Why You Need Routine In Your Life.
b) How to Become a Morning Person.
3. Stay committed to a single task:
“Distraction wastes our energy, concentration restores it.” – Sharon Salzberg.
Do you find yourself multitasking and trying to do a million things at the same time? A recent Google study showed 66 percent of people use smartphones and computers simultaneously, while 90 percent of those surveyed use electronic devices sequentially throughout the day. Every time you stop a task to quickly check Twitter or answer a text, you’re breaking up your concentration. Try setting a timer and keep your focus on doing one thing at a go. Say, you wanted to curate ten good quotes on motivation, followed by ten other quotes on smiling. Set a timer for 15 minutes to work on each task.
Be single-minded and work on that one thing at a time. In particular work on what is going to result in the highest level of productivity towards the most important goal.
4. Plan effectively:
Planning your day the night before. This eases out any anxiety that creeps in when the day starts. Your day will start out less stressful. Having the right plan helps you determine what and how to do your task. With a good plan, you are much more productive and less distracted. Last month I wrote about how to reduce decision fatigue by planning for future decisions, here is what I wrote then:
Plan your day, week, month in advance. Have your daily ’to achieve’ list ready the night before, your Action Plan for the next week ready before the weekend, and your next 30-day strategic growth plan ready before the end of the month – or whatever type of goal achieving system you use – get it done in good time. I have a flashcard above the light switch in my office that reads “Is tomorrow planned?” and I ensure that I’ve planned my day the night before so that when I get into the office the next day, I just get on with those plans without adding to my decision fatigue. That way, you won’t need to make a decision about what to do, you just follow the plan. This also means: make a weekly meal plan so you know what you’re eating, a daily default diary so your time is allocated, and put the ‘’important’ stuff earlier in the day. You will be better prepared to make effective decisions when you wake up.
5. Remove the distraction:
Easier said than done, right? Start simple like turning off notifications from your devices. Switch them back on after you’ve accomplished your tasks. Be clinical. Look for a quieter working space if you are in a busy work environment. Schedule play dates or get a daycare for your kids and maximise that time. When you have scheduled time to get productive, make sure that you are free from distraction or reduce potential distraction as much as possible. Create a distraction-free working environment. Which leads me nicely onto….
6. Create an organised working space:
When your workspace in untidy that it can consume your whole morning. Keep in mind to always tidy up the day before and you’ll wake up to an organised space every day. Instead of a thousand sticky notes, have a small notepad, write and date everything down. Clear your surfaces and if you have paperwork, use a tickler filing system (look up David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” as one way of doing this) or have a 1-31 filing system so that you have everything planned to work on at a particular date. Create a workspace that lets you feel liberated and is in and of itself conducive to being focused and avoiding distraction.
7. Become aware of your distractions:
Try being mindful about your day and how it went on. Take note of what you did and didn’t do and what got in the way. Do this for a week and compare the results. You will notice a pattern to how you work and the distractions that get in the way. This helps you bring back your focus on what’s important. Reflect upon times when you have been productive and consider how you avoided distraction then.
8. Maintain a healthy lifestyle:
Working long hours can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle leading to unwanted weight gain. Take time for regular exercise, eat healthy meals and remember to drink lots of water. You’ll find it easier to avoid distraction when you are healthy.
9. Don’t Make Comparisons:
Your goals are YOURS ONLY. Don’t base them on the accomplishments or timelines of others. Instead, see the success of others as inspiration; implement some of their strategies in your own daily practices. Look at where you want to be, look at who you want to be and how you want your life to be, and use that as a gauge. Consider what brings you the most joy, freedom and happiness and use that as your gauge as you measure your progress.
Read this article for more on this:
a) Stop comparing yourself to others.
10. Cut Wasted Time:
Busy does not equal productive. Practice becoming more intentional with your time. We all get lost in a Netflix binge or wasted time on social media, but we can’t allow these to become habits of distracting us from what’s most important. Set time limits on unproductive screen time and in other areas.
Use a tool that lets you see how you spend your time each day (I use the RescueTime app) and get a good sense of what you can remove from your day that is not advancing your productivity and happiness.
With all the goings-on in your life, it’s very easy to lose focus and get distracted. Get a plan of action in place. Get single-minded more often, remove potential distraction and you’ll love spending more time flowing Find out what works best for you without feeling overwhelmed you’ll find that you’ll stay focused and avoid distraction. Go enjoy heightened productivity and satisfaction.
Have some of these themes here resonated with you? Then have a read of these pages:
1. Do you need help or support to stop comparing yourself or in another particular area of your life?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
2. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others? Are you a hypnotherapist looking for stimulating and career enhancing continued professional development and advanced studies?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist who needs to stop comparing yourself or who is looking to fulfil your ambitions or advance your career?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.
Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar. Alternatively, go grab a copy of my Science of self-hypnosis book, it’ll help reduce distraction!